This model worked fine when live and merch were booming because more than three times as many monetised fans meant three times more opportunity for selling tickets and t-shirts. This of course is the ‘exposure’ argument streaming services are fond of, which works until it does not. Now that live and merch have collapsed, as the trope goes ‘exposure does not pay the rent’. The previously interconnected, interdependent model has become decoupled.
All of this is being driven by streaming (and particularly by paid streaming subscriptions), yet this growth is accompanied by a resurgence in unrest from the musicians whose work has made that growth possible. Many are worried that streaming royalties aren’t providing a sustainable income.
The contrast between these fears and the rosy industry figures is sharpened now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the live music industry having shut down entirely in many countries, with an anticipated hit to public performance royalties to come.
I’ve seen a lot of interesting articles popping up about how the current model for the music industry was (kinda) working … right up until live shows were removed from the equation. I’m afraid we’re going to see quite a few smaller to mid-sized bands just not return after all of this is over.